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20th Nov 2018

Alastair Campbell: The EU will make concessions if there’s another Brexit referendum

Alan Loughnane

Second Brexit referendum Alastair Campbell

It makes sense.

Author and former political aide Alastair Campbell believes the Brexit vote and the challenges faced by many European countries has removed any complacency from the EU leadership.

Speaking on the latest episode of Ireland Unfiltered, Campbell said the EU would be prepared to make concessions that would help the Remain side in the event of a second Brexit referendum.

“I think a lot of them have got the message and so I think you could get change,” he said.

You can read the full transcript below.

Dion: Do you think if there was another referendum the EU would be willing to give some concessions, more than Cameron got before?

Alastair Campbell: I think so, that’s what you hear. Once the UK had voted to leave-this is the other thing, because the whole thing had been been peddled as these fantasies, they’re all there, they need us more than we need them. They’re going to be terrified of losing their Mercedes sales and their Prosecco sales and their Camembert sales and all this stuff that got said.

And day one I said, ‘Listen as we’ve made this decision to leave the European Union now becomes its own vested interest, legitimately, against us.’

And when you look at these negotiations I’m afraid we have been completely routed, the UK has been routed and the reason for that is because of the scale of the lies and fantasies. All these circles that cannot be squared. What Theresa May has done is she’s tried to square circles and guess what? She’s discovered you can’t square circles. The circle is still a circle, the single market is still the single market.

The European Union is still absolutely clear that it’s going to do nothing to threaten that. And we meanwhile are left scrabbling around with kind of custom union deals and kind of not and backstops but backstops that might be a backstop to a backstop. And when I heard them talking about a swimming pool and think of this as a swimming pool and part of the country is in the deep end and part of the country is in the shallow end, I thought ‘You lot have lost the plot’.

So all this stuff goes on and she keeps peddling this message that the only choice is this deal or no deal. It’s not true, it’s not true, there is another choice.

And when you say would the European Union give more, understand as well that the debate in Europe has changed since the referendum as well. So I think they would and I think there are issues that you could get onto the agenda now because of other countries having these same problems we’d been having.

Later in the interview Campbell said there would almost certainly be limitations on any extension granted by the EU, and it would likely be with a guarantee of another referendum.

AC: But I think a lot of them have got the message and so I think you could get change. More importantly would the European Union if at any point Theresa May – if she survives – or her successor – if she doesn’t – I think at any point if a British prime minister said, ‘Look we need more time to sort this out’. I don’t think they’d get more time if it was just because they had to solve their differences inside the Conservative Party, but if we needed more time to extend the process so that, for example, we could put it to a people’s vote, then I’m sure that they would grant that.

You can listen to the fifth episode of Ireland Unfiltered, Dion Fanning in conversation with Alastair Campbell by simply subscribing here, and you can use #IrelandUnfiltered to join the conversation on social.

Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, is available everywhere you get your audio and on YouTube every Tuesday.